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EDITORIAL: Legislative Democrats play games with plan to revamp the Clark County School District

Liberals prefer to call themselves “progressives” these days. In fact, on many issues they’d be better described as reactionary conservatives. Just look at the last-minute shenanigans going on in Carson City.

Not only do some legislative Democrats seek to run Uber and Lyft out of town, others now hope to disembowel much-needed reform of the Clark County School District. In both instances, these liberal defenders of “progress” are acting on behalf of entrenched special interests intent on preserving the tired status quo.

The ride-sharing measure dropped Friday, when a Democratic assemblyman amended a pending measure to force Uber and Lyft drivers to quintuple their insurance coverage, a thinly veiled effort to cripple the innovators and protect the taxi cartel. Then on Monday, with less than a week pending in the 2017 session, Democratic leaders unveiled an “emergency” bill intended to undermine the reorganization of the nation’s fifth largest school district. This was done as a shout-out to certain interests inside the inflexible education establishment.

Assembly Bill 516, the brainchild of Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, would upend the effort to decentralize the Clark County School District by giving more autonomy to principals and parents in an effort to boost lagging test scores. Lawmakers passed the reform in 2015 and an interim committee spent months formulating the regulations last year.

But AB 516 threatens to undo that work. It pushes back by a year the implementation of the plan and reduces funding the district must provide to individual campuses.

The strategy is to weaken and delay, thus blunting momentum for the overhaul with a long-term goal of scuttling it completely and maintaining business as usual in a district that is failing a great many of its kids.

“At the end of the day, this is about students,” said Greg Bortolin, spokesman for the state Department of Education, “and delaying this reorganization only delays changes that will improve student success.”

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, a Henderson Republican, called the proposal an “abomination” on Twitter and urged a quick veto if it passes. Even the head of the Clark County Education Association blasted the bill.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican who has pushed an ambitious educational reform agenda, is unlikely to sign AB 516. Perhaps the measure is just a sorry attempt to use our struggling school children as pawns in the legislative horse-trading that characterizes the session’s looming end. If so, that’s even more reprehensible. But either way, legislative Democrats aren’t promoting progress, they’re trying to slam the door on it.

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